Crystal's StorySite storysite.org

 

Luck Be A Lady

by Catherine Linda Michel

 

Part 8

Being cautious, I motioned to Pickles to stay in the bathroom and I snuck out to hide in some trees close to it. As I watched, a man got out of the car and looked around. Then he re-opened the car door and stuck his head in. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but the opposite side car door opened and a female got out, accompanied by another man. Even from where I was I could see that the woman’s hands were held behind her.

The first guy stepped around the front of the car and he did something behind the woman’s back and her arms seemed to be released. She stretched and took a step towards the bathrooms but the second guy stopped her, roughly and said something to her. She nodded to him and began to walk slowly towards where Pickles was hiding, just inside the door. The second guy followed her and stopped just outside the door and, this time I heard what he said.

"Okay, doll. Take your cute little ass inside and tend to nature’s needs. Ya need any help in there, sweetheart?" His tone of voice was rough and his words were said in a mocking way. The woman turned to him and riposted, in the same tone of voice, "NO! I don’t need any help in there, you pervert! If you want to help me, though, take that gun that’s in your pocket and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine, and then pull the trigger a couple of times! That’d help me a LOT!" She turned haughtily and stalked into the bathroom, leaving the guy outside, fuming.

I knew that Pickles had smarts enough to hide in one of the stalls inside and I kept very quiet and still in the trees. The first guy had wandered over to the van and was trying to peer through the heavily tinted windows. I knew he wouldn’t have any luck but I was nervous about it anyway. What if one of the others woke up and yawned loudly or something! If I was to believe what that woman had said, those guys were armed!

A few minutes went by and the woman still hadn’t come back out of the bathroom. I could tell that the guy waiting for her outside was getting antsy. He was pacing back and forth, looking toward the door and muttering under his breath. Finally he yelled at the woman, "Hey! Let’s shake a leg in there! We got a lotta miles to cover today and you don’t wanna be late for your appointment, do ya? C’mon, c’mon! If you don’t hurry it up in there, I’m gonna come in and get ya! I saw the door begin to open and, at the same time, I looked back toward the van. The other guy was tugging on the door handle while looking around as if he were checking to see if anyone was watching! All of a sudden, the van door slammed open and I saw the guy stagger backwards! Neri followed the door and jumped right on the guy, taking him by surprise and wrestling him to the ground!

Kim was the next out and she had something in her hand. The guy near the bathroom saw what was going on and he seemed to be undecided about what he should do. He started toward the van and then stopped, turning back to the bathroom. The guy grappling with Neri shouted something and the guy near me seemed to make up his mind. He took off toward the van at a dead run! I ran back to the door of the bathroom and slammed it open to find Pickles and the woman cowering in one of the stalls.

I asked Pickles to stay put with the woman and I ran out the door headed toward the van. When I cleared the door, I could see that Kim had the second guy on the ground. She was standing, straddling him with her hands together and pointing something at him. Neri seemed to have gotten the best of the other guy, but I ran in that direction anyway in case she needed help. Before I got there though, she finished the fight with a well placed knee into the guy’s umm, groin. He folded up on the ground and I winced with remembered sympathetic pain. I knew what he must be feeling and, even though he seemed to be not a nice kinda guy, it still hurt, remembering.

Neri picked up a gun from the ground and stepped back from the beaten stranger, breathing hard but apparently none the worse for wear from her battle. I was impressed, though. I’d had NO idea Neri was that tough a character! I got some of that heavy duty fishing line from the van and we tied the two strangers up. Pickles showed up at the van with the woman somewhere in there and, for a minute there was a babble of voices, with everyone trying to talk at the same time. Finally, Prue stuck her head out of the van and yelled at all of us, For GOD’S sake! Will ALL of you shut the HELL up? How the hell am I supposed to get any slee......WHAT THE HELL?" She exclaimed, as her eyes took in the battle scene and it’s aftermath. Both of the men were tied up on the ground, face down and the woman was leaning on Pickles and Kim with a relieved expression on her face, almost crying. Chaos ruled for a few minutes, but finally order reigned. The story we got from the woman was at least as weird as our own! First of all, she said that her name was STEVE and that the two guys now tied up on the ground has changed her(him?) with some kind of weird machine! Then they had dressed him(?) in women’s clothing, hustled him(?) into that car and were taking him(?) somewhere. Where, he(?) had no idea, only that the men had mentioned something about "New Bosses" and how they were going to "change the world.". I asked Steve(?) What the machine that changed him had looked like and he(?) told me that it was kind of like a phone booth. He(?) had been forced inside as part of some kind of lab experiment and, the next thing he(?) knew, he(?) looked like he(?) did now. A mid 20’s "girl next door" kind of look. Cute, brunette and shapely, with a perky sounding little voice just made for cheerleading or a pep squad somewhere on some college campus.

Steve(?) was embarrassed, it was easy to tell, explaining all of this to us but we all made reassuring noises and indicated to him(?) that we believed him(?).

(At this point I’ll do away with the (?) bit and just refer to Steve as her)

The two guys on the ground were beginning to show signs of life so Neri blindfolded and gagged them. Then we dragged them into the van while Prue searched the car. The two guns were your standard 38 caliber long barreled revolvers and there were extra rounds in the men’s pockets along with their wallets and assorted other stuff. Prue came up with damned little from the car. A couple of road maps and a backseat full of fast food wrappers was about it. There were no clues in their wallets either. Just the standard I.Ds and a couple of credit cards with names that matched the I.Ds and about 235 dollars in cash. ‘Well’, I thought. ‘Nothing like one MORE wrinkle thrown into this crazy mix!’

Now we had TWO more problems to deal with! What to do with this "woman" and what to do with the two thugs that Neri and Kim had beaten up. After a bit of discussion, we decided to take ‘Steve’ with us. What to do with the two thugs was argued about for a good half hour before we hit upon an interesting solution.

Neri brought up the idea of using the machines to change the two men into something else. Not changing their forms so much but using the makeup and hair machines on them! If nothing else, it would certainly make anyone hearing their story doubt their sanity and, if we were lucky, they would stay out of sight until they had contacted whoever they were working for. We figured that it would be best if we knocked them out, changed them, and left before they woke up. That way they wouldn’t see which way we went, making it harder for them to tell anyone our direction of travel. Since they had only seen two of us, the chances of them identifying us were slim, plus we could always use the machines to change Kim’s and Neri’s looks a little bit.

I was in favor of changing those two clowns into women, just for spite! The way that one guy had treated Steve had pissed me off and I wanted that jerk to feel what it was like to be treated that way. I got voted down, though by the rest of the group. They told me, and rightly so, that it would be giving away the fact that we COULD change people’s shapes and bodies. As it was, just changing their looks by applying semi-permanent makeup to them and lengthening their hair would only raise suspicion in anyone who knew what the alien machines could do and THEY already knew that we had them!

I finally agreed and we proceeded to render the two bad guys unconscious via a couple of good hard shots to the backs of their heads, delivered by Steve. We figured she deserved SOME revenge on those two. After Steve knocked them out, we set to work in the back of that van. We turned their hair BLONDE and lengthened it to just below their asses. Then we used the makeup machine to apply really thick, slutty makeup to their faces. We stripped them of all their clothing except for their undershorts and left them tied up in the bathroom of the rest stop. The way we tied them up, they could probably get themselves free in an hour of so, but that makeup and hair wouldn’t come off without the use of some more of the alien devices. I did insist on one other concession, though. Using the machines once more, I made their voices female in pitch! It was my ONE act of vengeance against these two thugs and I hoped that it would be a good LONG time before anyone decided to change them back into the sorry specimens of manhood they HAD been! We tore the wiring out of the car they had arrived in and threw the keys into a stream not too far away from the rest stop. They wouldn’t be using THAT car to go ANYWHERE! I wanted to flatten the tires as well but was voted down again. The others reasoned that a car sitting there with four flat tires would arouse too much suspicion, too soon, for our purposes. Fortunately it was early enough in the morning that there was no other traffic on the road and we had plenty of time to "do our thing" on those two and their car. When we pulled out of the rest stop, they were still dead to the world. I almost wished I could be there when they woke up, freed themselves and got their first good look at themselves and heard their new voices! I know, I know, it was probably dumb of us to use the machines on them at all, but it seemed to be the thing to do at the time. It gave us a bit of a feeling of revenge on those who had been hounding us.

I was driving again, while the others questioned Steve/Stephanie. I caught bits and pieces of what they were talking about but I didn’t get the whole story until we stopped for Breakfast/Lunch. I had continued driving in the same direction that we had been going before we stopped at the rest stop, reasoning that the two yahoos we left back there wouldn’t know which direction we went. About an hour and a half down the road, I stopped a restaurant/truck stop and I pulled off the road, parking in the lot between a couple of big tractor trailers in the back of the place.

I told the others that maybe it would be a good idea if we just got food to go and kept on moving until we were far enough away from that rest stop that a description of the van wouldn’t put us in jeopardy. I knew that it’d be awhile before anyone discovered the two thugs we had left behind us and I hoped it’d even longer before they could convince anyone of who they were and allow them to contact whoever they were working for. Still, I thought it’d be best if we kept moving for awhile. They seemed to agree and Steve didn’t want to go ANYWHERE, looking the way she did right then. I couldn’t blame her, being in sort of the same boat as she was. I’d had a couple of days to get used to looking and sounding like a female but it was still strange and somewhat nerve wracking to be around people I didn’t know for very long. We decided that Pickles would go in and get our food. Since she had been a waitress for a couple of years, she would find it easier to remember what everyone wanted. We did write a few things down for her but she seemed to have it all under control. Kim wanted to go in with her and, after a few seconds of discussion, we agreed to that. It would be easier for two to carry all that food anyway. Kim took one of the .38s that we had taken from the two thugs and stuck it in her purse. I had become adamant that none of us should go anywhere, unarmed. Kim and Pickles exited the van and went inside while Prue, Neri and I continued to talk to Stephanie. It had been decided to call Steve, Stephanie as long as she looked the way she did right then. It would make things easier on all of us and would hide her identity in case we got stopped. It WAS discussed that we should use the machines to change Stephanie again, into one of the forms in our laptop because we had I.D. for all of those forms. That would have to wait though until we had eaten and found somewhere to hole up for the night again.

It wasn’t too long before Pickles and Kim came back with their arms loaded with bags full of food and, after passing out what everyone had ordered, we got back on the road, preferring to eat while moving. I kept the van just slightly under the speed limit using the cruise control and I watched the speed very carefully to make sure that the mechanical speed control was doing it’s job properly. The LAST thing we needed was to be pulled over by an overzealous public servant. (Read, COP!)

We talked while we rode and ate and it became apparent that Stephanie really didn’t know anything more than she had already told us. She was clueless about where or what the machines really were or did and she didn’t know who the two men were that had taken her for that car ride or where they had been taking her. She had answered an ad for a lab assistant and the next thing she knew, they had changed and kidnaped her. She tried to get us to talk about ourselves but we kept pretty much close lipped about ourselves and where we were going. It wasn’t that we didn’t trust Stephanie, but rather it was because we were just plain paranoid! Our group seemed to be growing every time we turned around and, while we knew that if Steph stayed with us for very long we’d HAVE to confide in her, we didn’t want to give too much away for right off the bat, as it were. Any information Steph got from us, at least for a while, would have to be on a "need to know" basis until she had proven herself to us. For all WE knew, she COULD’VE been a ‘plant’, placed with us by GOD only knew who, to help track us. I’ll admit that the ‘plant’ notion was fairly farfetched considering that Kim had removed all the tracking devices she had found. The question was, had Kim found ALL the trackers? Only time would tell.

So, we munched our food while we drove and talked. The conversation naturally turned to how to make Stephanie feel more at ease with her outer form. Pickles and Neri took charge of that while Kim fussed over the manuals from the alien gear and Prue and I talked quietly up in the front seats. We knew that there was very little chance of returning Stephanie to her original, male form, especially when we didn’t even know WHO had changed her. Prue used the mobile phone to get in touch with her ‘contact’ in L.A. to find out if everything was set up for us when we got there. When she got off the phone she told me that her friend had found an out of the way place for us to stay and had a small business where we could "work" while we were figuring things out.

I wondered how Prue could trust this ‘friend’ so implicitly as to put ALL of our lives on the line but she just looked at me and smiled. I tried my darndest to get her to talk about her ‘friend’ but she wouldn’t say a word except to say that she trusted this person with her life and that would have to be good enough for the rest of us. I’ll grant you that there were doubts in the back of my mind. I had fallen in love with Prue, but I didn’t really know her at all. I hoped, with all my being, that my heart wasn’t leading me "down the garden path". Again, only time would tell. So far Prue hadn’t given me ANY reason not to trust her and I HAD to go with that. At least we were closer to L.A. at that point in time than we had ever been. I saw a road sign that listed several cities and it read, "Los Angeles 575 miles" with an arrow pointing south. I was driving while Prue navigated and continued talking. She said that, at our next stop we should find one of those "Earl Schibe" places that’ll paint your vehicle for a couple of hundred bucks, reasoning that if we at least changed the color scheme of the van, it would make it a little bit harder to spot us on the road. I had to agree with her.

She also talked about her "friends" in L.A. a little bit. It seemed that they had been college pals and had stayed in touch even after graduating. Prue had even visited them in L. A. and, while there, had been instrumental in helping save the life of their child! Apparently the kid had been playing in their back yard and had suddenly started crying. Prue had been "watching’ the child and quickly ran to him to see what was wrong. The kid said, through his tears, that he had been "stung" by something. Prue had looked around where the child had been playing and she saw a small scorpion in the throes of death, evidently injured by the child after it had stung him. Prue rushed the child inside and called 911 and even did rescue breathing on the little boy while waiting for the paramedics.

Prue had then called the parents at work and told them what had happened and where their son was being taken and arranged to meet them at the hospital. The doctors said that without Prue’s quick actions and her helping the little boy keep breathing until help arrived, she had saved his life. The parents, who were very successful lawyers had thanked Prue profusely and told her if she EVER needed ANYTHING, all she had to do was call them and she would have it, whatever it was. Prue had never called in that favor until she met me and that made me feel even more guilty about involving her in this, but what choice had I really had?

She had pretty much involved herself when she helped me get out of that motel where I had met her and, I had to admit, she had been a GREAT help. I knew, without a doubt that if I had tried to get away on my own, I would have been caught in no time at all, considering MY bad luck. Add to that the fact that I would have had NO idea where to go or what to do when I got there and it was REAL clear to me that if I hadn’t met Prue and she hadn’t decided to take a chance on me, I’d be in some DEEP stuff and all alone to boot!

With that thought, something "clicked" in my head and it was like I suddenly could see clearly for maybe the first time in my life! Looking back on my life I began to see that my "bad luck" had, in most cases, been a result of bad choices on MY part. I had always been looking for the "quick score", that one time lucky break that never came and probably never would. I guess I had been quiet for too long or not paying attention because Prue tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Hey, Billie, Are you okay? You got real quiet there and you looked like you were somewhere else. If you’re tired or something, I can take over driving for awhile."

I turned my head slightly to glance at her and said, "No, thanks, Prue. I’m okay. I just had a kind of revelation or something and I’m suddenly feeling a lot better about all of the things that have happened to us. I’ll tell you about it the next time we stop. It’s still kinda fuzzy in my head and I want to get it straight before I try to tell you about it, Okay?" I turned my head back to the front and continued driving, glancing at the speedometer to make sure we were within the posted limits. I couldn’t hear what was being said in the back of the van but it was quiet back there as well. I guess everyone was tying to recover from the action at the rest stop. We covered a hundred miles or so the rest of that day and there were no further incidents. We all did a lot of talking when we stopped to eat or fuel up the van. It became obvious to me that these people I had gathered around me were, in some ways, just as much victims of life, or their own bad decisions, as I had been. Prue had a failed marriage and no real direction in her life. Neri was a runaway and WAY more experienced in a lot of things a 17 year old shouldn’t normally be. Pickles and Kim had been trapped in more or less dead end jobs, just marking time and, like me, hoping for that one big break that would probably never come. Stephanie had been an average college student, looking for the easy way through life and not finding it.

SOMETHING had brought us all together. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew there HAD to be a reason for having met all of them. I’ve never been much on religion and I don’t believe in "predestination". I always figured you were given a hand to play, at birth and you played that hand for all you were worth until you died. In my whole life, I had never felt like I was a part of anything, though. I always was the "outsider", the one who never seemed to quite fit in.

Now, with these people, I felt a part of something. Something BIG, and I liked it! I mea, yeah we were in a lot of trouble if we got caught but, the more I looked at the capabilities of this group, the more I became sure that we would reach our destination, come hell or high water! I didn’t know what might happen after we got there but I somehow knew that we WOULD, at least, get there!

During the day we managed to get some more information out of Stephanie. It seemed that she had no parents, having been left an orphan at the age of 12. She had been raised by an Aunt who had provided her the means to attend college but who really had no place for Stephanie to come back to, having recently suffered a heart attack and a stroke. She had been placed in a long term care facility and her home and possessions had been sold, for the most part, to help pay for her care, along with her health insurance. Steph had no other living relatives, as far as she knew and had been planning on moving somewhere when she finished college. As far as she was concerned, L. A. was as good a place as any only she hadn’t had ANY desire to move there as a member of the "opposite" sex!

I knew we had the means to change Stephanie back into a male body. Not her old one, since we didn’t know what it looked like and had no picture to copy into the "laptop", but we COULD place her into a male body. The question was, did we want to? Maybe it would be better if we changed her looks but kept her female until we got to L. A. and found a hideaway. I was pondering that question in my mind as we hunted for a motel for the night. Talk had kind of died down in the late afternoon and into the evening. The radio was the only sound in that van except for the humming of the tires and the engine noise.

Neri was driving with Kim in the passenger seat and I was in the back with Prue, Pickles and Stephanie. As I said, conversation was nil and each of us seemed occupied with his or her own thoughts. Neri spotted a sign advertising the "Cut Rate Motel" and, at the next intersection, turned in the direction indicated by the sign. Within a couple of minutes we were puling into the parking lot of yet another in a seemingly endless succession of cheap places to spend a night. This was one part of this trip I would gladly forget! Neri and Prue went in to secure rooms for us and the rest of us waited patiently and somewhat sleepily in the van. It had been a couple of days since we’d had any trouble from the MIBs and, for that at least, I was grateful. I guess that Kim Had found all the tracking devices from the alien gear and they weren’t able to track us. At least that was what I hoped. Right then, though, all I wanted was to lay down and sleep. I was pretty much played out and was finding it hard to maintain any thought for more than a minute or two. The others looked pretty tired as well and I figured that the strain of the past week was getting to all of us. We needed a break but I didn’t see how we were ever going to get one until we reached L.A. Neri and Prue came back to the van and Neri drove us around the back where there were several "rooms" in one long building. Prue and I paired up, Kim and Pickles took one of the other rooms leaving Neri with Stephanie. Since they were more or less the same age, it seemed like a good idea to me. Of course, at THAT point, almost anything sounded like a good idea as long as it ended with me being asleep! Neri said she’d research the phone book and see if she could come up with a place to get the van painted and Pickles was wondering if there was a pizza place that would deliver to the motel!

We split up the alien gear so not all of it was in one room and each room took a weapon, either one of the "rayguns" or one of the captured pistols. We had agreed, out of earshot of Stephanie, not to tell her about the devices I had found on board the spacecraft, figuring that what she didn’t know, wouldn’t hurt her. If worse came to worse, she could truthfully state that she knew nothing about us other than our names and what she had heard from us in conversation. Eventually we would have to tell her everything but we figured that would wait until we reached L.A.

While we were settling into our respective rooms, I turned on the television to watch a news program. You can imagine my surprise when I heard an anchorwoman talking about aliens! She said that there had been a record number of UFO sightings in the western part of the U.S., particularly in Nevada and California and added that the sightings were being investigated by several government agencies. There were film clips of many different interviews conducted by the people conducting the investigation and more than one of the investigators looked like the ones who had been dogging our heels! There was a related story, according to the anchorwoman and this one shocked me!

There was a still shot on the screen that looked very familiar to me but it took me a minute to recognize it. It was a picture of the crash site that I had been at and it was accompanied by a brief story about what had been found there. Then, the biggest shock of all, a picture of ME flashed on the screen! Well, a picture of the OLD me. The newswoman said that I was being sought by both the government AND by the police in conjunction with an investigation into the crash of an aircraft in the Nevada desert! She further said that it was believed that I had STOLEN equipment and personal effects from the downed aircraft and had fled from the police! All of a sudden, this attractive female body I had been sort of forced into, seemed to be a safe place to be instead of being the hindrance I had been looking at it as being.

I looked over at Prue and I wondered what she was thinking about this obviously false and misleading news story. She looked back at me and gave a little snort of disbelief and a smile.

"Never mind what she is saying, Billie." She said. " I know the truth and so do the others. Judging by the picture they just showed of the old you, there’s no chance that they know what you look like now and, if I have anything to say about it, they never will! Now let’s get some sleep, okay?"

She walked over and gave me a chaste goodnight kiss on the cheek. I halfheartedly tried to turn my head so our lips would meet but she playfully pushed my head to one side saying, "Now there’ll be none of that tonight, my dear. You need your sleep and I need mine. So you just lay back on your bed and close your eyes. There’ll be plenty of time for "other" things when we reach safety." With that, she lay down on her bed and closed her eyes. I laid there wondering what she’d meant by "other" things and hoping that she was talking about what I HOPED she was talking about. I laid back and closed my eyes and fell almost instantly asleep. If I had known what the following day would bring, though, I would have never been able to close my eyes and would have been scared to death!

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 


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2001 by Cathy_t. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, compilation design) may printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without express written consent of the copyright holder.